For Costco devotees, Anchorage’s new business center brings a satisfying trip down the aisle

As Alex Lanier and his fiancee, Emily, walked through the aisles of Anchorage’s new Costco Business Center on Friday morning, it was like a romantic stroll down memory lane.

The couple had enjoyed part of their first date at Costco. Now, they’re set to be married Sunday.

Outfitted in Kirkland gear — Costco’s signature brand — Emily wore a bride-to-be veil over her pink stocking cap.

“We met and went to lunch,” Emily said. “And we didn’t want the date to end. And so we were like, ‘What do you have to do today? Hey, I need to go to Costco. Do you need to go to Costco?’ And then we wandered around Costco.’ ”

The happy couple and their friend were the first in the doors Friday at Tikahtnu Commons, and made the first purchase — a box of Reese’s Peanut Butter Big Cups. And while this Costco is tailored toward businesses and commercial ventures, the shopping crowd early Friday featured plenty of curious Costco devotees.

Among that sea of shoppers, Ulber Ferati stood out, rolling a flatbed cart packed high with cheese, spices and produce.

The owner of Spenard eatery Fiori D’Italia, Ferati said the business center is a game-changer for him, providing high-quality produce, dry goods and equipment for reasonable — and relatively stable — prices.


He said since Sam’s Club closed in 2018, Anchorage hasn’t had a spot that offered commercial businesses that type of selection and purchase power. He’s turned to other suppliers, but said prices and quality are inconsistent. Costco’s new store, he said, allows him to make one stop and be able to purchase in bulk.

“This is the heart of my business because we cannot raise prices too high,” he said. “It just doesn’t work.”

With aisles packed full of hotel pans, dishes and appliances as well as larger containers of dry goods and cuts of meat, Ferati believes the store will be especially beneficial to businesses in the service and hospitality industries.

The store had an initial rush when it opened with a ribbon cutting at 7 a.m. as excited shoppers snapped selfies among the large contingent of Costco employees who lined the aisles.

Ronn Sidro walked through the aisles Friday morning with particular interest. He’d worked at a Costco Business Center in Tacoma, Washington, and was curious if the Alaska outpost would carry everything that the Lower 48 stores offered.

“We’ve just went through three aisles already,” he said. “Some of the stuff here that was in the Lower 48 (stores), they actually brought up here, because you can’t really find this stuff here at a normal Costco.”

While there are plenty of items not featured at standard Costco warehouses, there are also items shoppers will find at other stores that don’t appear in the business center. That includes clothing, seasonal items, food samples and the vaunted Costco Food Court.

Another feature of the business center is planned two-day grocery delivery statewide through FedEx.

Sidro said aside from the local businesses, the biggest impact may be the increased access from shoppers across the state.

“Now that you have this stuff consistently coming in, it’s going to be a lot easier for the rest of the state, going through the villages and getting their orders packed up,” he said.

[A ‘different kind’ of Costco is opening in Anchorage, with plans for 2-day grocery delivery statewide]

The business center is home to a vastly larger walk-in cooler section, with sized-up produce selections: boxes of citrus fruit as opposed to bags, and 50-pound bags of items like sweet potatoes.

The store’s inventory on Friday included commercial hand dryers, New Zealand whole lambs and buckets of candy big enough to sustain a major parade float.

Ubon Outhavong was taking advantage of another perk of the Costco Business Center: earlier hours. The business center opens at 8 a.m. on Sundays and 7 a.m. the rest of the week. He had taken his mother, described as a serious Costco shopping fanatic, to check out the new store.

“I figured if we get here earlier in the day, maybe we won’t miss anything,” he said. “For some reason, I’m superstitious. I’m the same way on Black Friday and holiday time. Oh my gosh, you’ve got to get there so you don’t miss something.”

Plus, he was looking to outfit the new house he’d just bought with a few items. As much as anything, he was on the hunt for a deal on an Apple Mac mini, which he’d seen at other stores.

Maria Isabella Rivera had her arms loaded up with bottles from a row packed with various Torani flavored beverage syrups. They were the perfect addition to the coffee she and her husband enjoy — and on a great sale.


Initially, she’d just intended to scope out the scene. But like many trips to Costco, that plan didn’t stick.

“I just came to look around, but I’ve seen a lot of good deals,” she said. “I wasn’t going to get anything, but once you get here your mentality changes. ‘Oh, I need this, I need that.’”

The same was true for the soon-to-be newlyweds, who eventually picked up a cart after determining they needed more items than just the Reese’s. They even had their eyes on some potential snacks for the reception.

“The selection of cheese was great,” Emily said.

Chris Bieri

Chris Bieri is the sports and entertainment editor at the Anchorage Daily News.